Roasted Tomato Soup

Next to strawberries, fresh tomatoes are my favorite produce of the summer’s bounty.  From a simple tomato sandwich on very soft white bread to a fabulous tart on puff pastry, you have a lot of delicious food options for the humble tomato.  To me, tomato soup is a perfect comfort food and made even better with the addition of a grilled cheese sandwich.

I hope you have been enjoying all of the good summer produce.  I have visited the Farmers Market several times and been gifted with produce from friends with home gardens.  Here are some lovely tomatoes and zucchini a friend gave to me today.

I make tomato soup quite often.  If I make it when fresh tomatoes are not available, I use a good canned tomato product.  I have already posted a favorite recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup using fresh tomatoes.

However, I noticed that a lot of food bloggers and cookbook authors were roasting the tomatoes prior to making the soup.  I wanted to give that a try.  I can confirm that roasting the tomatoes does intensify the flavor and sweetness of them.

Here are the tomatoes I used for this recipe.  They were a larger size but perfectly fine for this recipe.

Recipe inspired by Roasted Tomato Soup from Tyler Florence.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
basil for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash and dry the tomatoes.  If desired, peel them.  Cut the tomatoes in half or in quarters (depending on size).  Place the tomatoes and onions on a large baking tray.  Drizzle with the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tomatoes soften and start to caramelize.

Remove the roasted tomatoes and onion from the oven and transfer to a large dutch oven or pot.  Add the chicken or vegetable broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until soup thickens slightly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until desired smoothness.  Add the butter and heavy cream.  Serve warm, garnished with basil leaves.

 

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Cherry Clafoutis

Local cherry season is here in West Michigan.  I like to get cherries from nearby Robinette’s Orchard.  They have U-pick as well as already picked for convenience.  I’m not sure what happened, but this year their cherry season was very short.  Before I could get there, they posted on Facebook that cherries were already gone.

Luckily, there are a lot of orchards around Grand Rapids.  I had no problem finding sweet cherries at my local farmers market, Fulton Street Farmers Market.

I usually make a Cherry Clafoutis every year once the sweet cherries are available.  Cherry Clafoutis is kind of a custard but with a firm consistency that will support the cherries.  The cherries raise to the top as the clafoutis bakes.

A clafoutis is a classic French dessert but at the same time a rustic one.  It is also quick and easy to make.  The dessert originated from Limousin in the southern region of France. I have tweaked a lot of different recipes to come up with a version that I prefer.

A traditional Limousin clafoutis will likely contain the cherry pits which give a subtle almond flavor.  However, I recommend removing the pits from the cherries and using almond flavoring in the batter.

I bought a cherry pitter from Amazon a few years ago.  It is made by Prepworks by Progressive and sells for about $12.  It only pits 4 large cherries at a time but does a really good job of removing the pits.

Not everyone in the family cares for this dessert.  However, I look forward to making it every year as soon as the local sweet cherries are available.  The aroma when it is baking in the oven, reminds me of the time I lived in France.

Cherry Clafoutis

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2-3 cups sweet cherries, whole, pitted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 inch *springform pan or baking dish (cake or pie dish).  Sprinkle with sugar.  Arrange the whole pitted cherries in the prepared pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (with the whisk attached) combine the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, melted butter, kirsch, and almond extract.  Beat until smooth.  The batter will be thin.  Pour the batter over the cherries in the prepared pan.  Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes or until the Clafoutis is puffed and brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm.  If desired, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.  Also good with whipped cream.  

Notes:
1.  Best served warm.  Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and warmed up in the microwave.
2.  *If using a springform pan, be sure that it is leakproof.
3.  Clafoutis is also spelled clafouti.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Strawberry Ice Cream

When I bought my ice cream maker last year, I was afraid that I might not use it enough to justify the purchase.  But I’m happy say that I used it several times last summer and this summer as well.  I especially like it for making homemade strawberry ice cream.

I have the Cuisinart Ice21 model which makes up to 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream.  It is easy to operate and makes delicious ice cream.  It is a little noisy when it is making the ice cream but for me that is not a problem.  I think it sells for about $54 on Amazon.

The recipe is from the booklet that came with the ice cream maker.  The original recipe calls for part whole milk but I used all heavy cream.  This is a non custard type of ice cream which makes it even easier to prepare.  Even without an egg custard base, it is still rich and delicious tasting.

When the ice cream has finished processing, it will be like a soft serve consistency which is my favorite way to eat it.  A little (or a lot) of Hershey’s chocolate syrup drizzled on the strawberry ice cream is also delicious.

I used fresh locally grown strawberries for the ice cream.  The pureed strawberries turn the ice cream a light pink color; no need for food coloring here.  Every spoonful of this homemade strawberry ice cream is sure to remind you of happy summer days.

Strawberry Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled*
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the strawberries into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Pulse the strawberries until roughly/finely chopped (depending on preference).  Reserve in a bowl.

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the reserved strawberries with all juices.

Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.  Turn on the ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.  The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture.  If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.  Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

*Frozen strawberries may be substituted if fresh strawberries are not available.

Note:
I used freezing instructions for the Cuisinart Ice21 ice cream maker.  You will need to freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops

I know summer is not officially here till June 21st.  However, it has been feeling a lot like summertime with our warm weather.  This time of year, we start seeing beautiful wildflowers alongside the roadways and in forests.

I have been wrongly calling these flowers wild phlox.  They are actually an invasive plant called dame’s rocket.  Dame’s rocket has four petals while phlox have five petals.  They are still beautiful flowers and a welcome sight in late May and June.  I took these pictures at a nearby park where I see them every year.


In the summertime, it is so much easier to grill.  I’m talking about not having to deal with the cold and snowy weather we are blessed with here in Michigan.

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I do like to cook with it.  One of my favorite ways of cooking with beer is by brining either pork or chicken.

Brining is a method of soaking a meat in a liquid solution.  This can be as simple as water, salt, and sugar.  Brining adds flavor to leaner cuts of meat such as pork chops.  Adding beer to the mixture will provide even more flavor and ups the moisture in the chops.  I like the flavor that the Guiness extra stout adds to the grilled pork chops.

Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/4 cups water
2 bottles (12 ounces each) Guinness extra stout beer
2 tablespoons mild flavored molasses
2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick

olive oil

Extra Seasonings

1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder

In a large bowl, combine the water, beer, molasses. and salt.  Stir until the salt dissolves. Place the chops in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the brine mixture. Press the air out of the bag and seal it tightly. Place in a baking pan large enough to hold the bag.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours, turning the bag several times to distribute the marinade.

Remove pork chops from brine. Discard remaining brine.  Pat the chops dry with paper towels.  Brush pork chops lightly with oil.  Sprinkle with the extra seasonings.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Place chops on grate, and close the lid. Turn heat down to medium to medium-low. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over, and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Do not overcook, or meat will become tough. 

Notes:
1.  The National Pork Board recommends cooking pork chops to an internal temperature between 145°F and 160°F.
2.  The brine makes enough for 4 pork chops.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Buttermilk Waffles

Waffles are a family favorite.  There are no picky eaters when it comes to waffles.  Everyone expects them to be served on special occasions and sometimes on the weekend.  These buttermilk waffles are a favorite of everyone.

Waffles have been around for a very long time, even earlier than the Middle Ages.  Here in America, General Electric produced the first electric waffle iron in 1911.  It had a built-in thermostat to prevent the waffles from burning.  In the 1930s, waffle irons become standard kitchen appliances.

In 1964 the Belgian waffles made their debut at the New York World’s Fair in Flushing, NY.  Originally called Brussels waffles, the originator changed the name to Belgian because he thought that most Americans were unfamiliar with Brussels.

The above information about waffles is courtesy of an article from the nibble.

Belgium waffles are made with a waffle iron that has a deeper and larger grid pattern.  The recipes usually include yeast.  Some recipes may include beaten egg whites for lightness.

I used to have a Belgian waffle maker but now I have a Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (standard waffle maker) and that is what I used to make the waffles for this post.  It makes waffles about 7 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick.

This recipe has buttermilk in it and is a favorite of mine.  The buttermilk adds a rich creamy flavor to these light and crispy waffles.  This is a quick and easy waffle recipe.

My favorite way to serve waffles is simply with butter and Michigan maple syrup.

But waffles are often served with whipped cream and a variety of berries.

IMG_2336

Also, we have the popular and delicious combination of waffles and fried chicken.

Homemade waffles are a delicious treat for breakfast that your family is sure to love.

Recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s Basic Waffle recipe and can be found here.

Buttermilk Waffles

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and melted butter.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix to combine.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour batter onto the waffle iron (amount depends on iron size).  Close the waffle iron and cook until waffles are golden brown and crisp.  Remove from the waffle maker.  Serve immediately with favorite toppings or keep warm in a 200 degree° F oven until ready to serve. Recipe may make more or less depending on size of your waffle maker.  

I hope spring has arrived where you live.  We seem to finally have springtime here in west Michigan.

Thanks to Robinnete’s for sharing their picture of apricot trees in bloom.  A sure sign that spring is here and also the promise of apricots later in the year.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I always think of lemon meringue pie as a dessert for the springtime.  With its bright yellow filling and billowy meringue topping it does seem like a good time to serve the pie.  I remember lemon meringue pie as a favorite dessert when growing up in the South.

Even though the pie may be reminiscent of spring, the three times I made it our weather was anything but springlike.  We had snow for two of the baking days and then sleet, freezing rain, and snow the last time I made the pie.  Here is a picture of a cute little red squirrel on my frozen deck.  He braved the elements for a quick treat.

The pie in this post has honey in the filling instead of sugar.  I made the pie twice with honey and once using sugar in the filling.  Both are good, but I do prefer the honey over sugar.  The custard is lemony and a nice balance between sweet and tart.

Recipe is adapted from Land O Lakes.  Original recipe can be found here.

Lemon Meringue Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Filling
1 cup honey
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
5 large eggs, lightly beaten (reserve whites for meringue)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1 baked 9-inch deep dish pie crust

Meringue
5 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Filling Preparation

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the honey, cornstarch, and salt together.  Gradually stir in the  water until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a full boil (about 7-9 minutes).  Boil 1 minute and then remove from the heat.

Gradually stir about 1/4 cup of the honey mixture into the beaten egg yolks to temper them.  Gradually stir the egg yolk mixture into remaining hot mixture.  Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and is thickened, about 2-3 more minutes.

Remove from the heat.  Stir in butter until it is melted.  Stir in the lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Pour the hot filling into the baked pie crust.  Set aside while you make the meringue.

Meringue Preparation

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl at low speed until foamy.  Beat at medium high speed, gradually adding the sugar (about a tablespoon at a time), continuing to beat until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy looking.

Spread the meringue over the hot filling, completely sealing to edge of crust to help prevent shrinkage.  If desired, make decorative peaks with the back of a spoon all over the top of the meringue.

Bake at 350°F 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is light golden brown.  Cool the pie completely before slicing and serving.  Store leftover pie loosely covered in the refrigerator.  Best eaten same day as made.  

Notes:
If using a stand mixer, use the wire whisk to beat the egg whites.

 

Cheesecake

Do you like cheesecake?  I do and will quite often order it as a dessert when eating out.  I had never baked one until just recently.  I thought making a cheesecake would be too difficult and time consuming.  After baking one, I don’t think that cheesecakes are that difficult to make.

Cheesecake is a sweet dessert usually consisting of two layers.  The main layer and also the thickest consists of a batter of soft fresh cheese, cream cheese or ricotta, eggs, vanilla and sugar.  The bottom layer is made from crushed cookies, usually graham crackers.  Cheesecake is normally baked and after cooling can be topped with many different delicious toppings.

William Lawrence, an American dairyman, of Chester, NY is credited with first producing and selling cream cheese.  This was in 1872.  Lawrence later sold the Philadelphia trademark to the Phoenix Cheese Company which was purchased by Kraft in 1928.  Kraft still produces the cream cheese today.  Source

I used a recipe from Kraft and original recipe can be found here.  The recipe doesn’t call for a water bath but I baked my cheesecake in one.  I also added one tablespoon of flour to the cheese mixture.  A water bath and flour are supposed to help prevent cracks in the cheesecake.  The prep time for this recipe is only about 30 minutes but several hours are required for the cooling process.

Cheesecake

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Graham Cracker Crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For the Filling:

3 pkg. (8-oz each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon four
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan.  Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan.  Bake until the crust is fragrant and warm to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes.  Let the pan cool on a rack while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, scraping down the side occasionally.  Beat in the sour cream, sugar, flour, and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Wrap the cooled springform pan with foil, over bottom and sides, making sure it comes to the top edge so water from the water bath won’t leak in.  Double wrap if necessary.  Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust.

Place the wrapped springform pan in a boiler pan or shallow-sided roasting pan.  Place in the preheated oven.  Pour enough hot water into the pan to come about 1 inch up side of foil wrapped springform pan.

Bake in center of preheated oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until center is almost set.  Remove pan to a rack.  Run a knife around inside of cake pan to help prevent cracking.  Let stand until water cools, about 30 minutes.  Remove pan from the water.  Discard foil.  Cool completely to room temperature.  Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

After chilling, unlock the spring on the springform pan and carefully lift off the outer ring.  Cut into slices and serve.  Serve with raspberry sauce if desired.

Notes:
1.  All ingredients for the cheesecake should be at room temperature.
2.  For great tips on making cheesecake visit thekitchn web site.  A great site for answers to any cooking or baking questions.